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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Jan 7, 2008 11:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: The Jerry Question

In olden days, the press seemed to leave well enough alone regarding the foibles and flaws of our heroes, alive or departed. There have been times since August of 95 that I've thought less of Garcia, and more of his flaws, only to come back around to having a true admiration and affection for the man. Or at least the memory of the man.

I've assessed the blame for the bands lack of enthusiasm after Brents death on Garcia. I've felt that his addictions were self centered and hypocritical of his own position on the subject of drugs. I've felt that his poor performances were a result of those same selfish acts. There are other instances in his personal life as well as his treatment of brother musicians that also don't shine favorably on his demeanor.

...yet I don't believe in my heart of hearts that he ever did one thing in his life with malice. (There has to be a great proverb in here somewhere.)

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Poster: blacklakelight Date: Jan 9, 2008 7:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question


"I still pull for old Jerry even though I know how the story ends." - yesss!

And, yes! *Fantastic* thread. Anything I could add would be redundant. Really enjoyed reading everyone's replies, not a whiff of mean-spirited idiocy in the bunch.

"How many times can you play 'Me and My Uncle' without getting bored?" --LA Woman-- I nearly spit coffee.

Thanks for a good one, all.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jan 8, 2008 5:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

A man is a man is a man.

Jerry never wanted to be anyone's role model or hero. His poor treatment of the women in his life--well, that's his private life. Did Monica's blow job have anything to do with Clinton's performance?

As to quality: almost every band is at its best in its early years when all is new--all is discovery and they aren't bored with each other. Would you rather play jams that were exciting on small stages to small crowds that were being blown away on acid or endless noodles to arena audiences that were looking for the bathroom to piss away a six pack? Success diminishes art.

The Stones, Floyd, the Airplane, Clapton, the Band, Dylan--so many artists whose creativity fades over time. It's only natural. "You can't stay twenty on Sugar Mountain." What was Dylan's last great l.p.--Blood on the Tracks? The Stones--Exile on Main Street? "Stage Fright?"
But I'm still glad all these old fogies play. It's still fun to get out and enjoy some good music, warts and all.

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Poster: staggerleib Date: Jan 8, 2008 12:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Well, Ghost-
You pose another subject about which I have thought often. How few bands or individual performers maintain their artistry many years into their careers, while garnering a level of success, notoriety beyond the standard fare?

I can think of a few, musicians who test themselves, who are striving not just for listeners, and monetary success, but true artistry. Certainly Jerry was a student his entire career. He simply loved music and loved learning new sounds, techniques, styles, and musical structures. To hear him say it, he was a lazy writer. But, even with writing, he pushed himself.

I think of guys like Peter Gabriel, who has experienced a success beyond almost everyone in the industry, and over a huge span of a career. He has had huge airplay with songs like In Your Eyes, and Shock the Monkey. Yet, the success seems incidental, almost accidental. His goal has always been to make the music he wanted to make.

Once again, to be redundant, I have to mention Todd Rundgren. If anything, this iconoclast has almost shunned popularity.

I think of Warren Zevon, and Karl Wallinger, Rickie Lee Jones. Oh, don't forget Bob Dylan.

Above all, I have to place the Beatles. This is a band that in a few short years matured and aged amazingly. They are one of the fewest examples of the exception to the rule. These guys got so much better as they progressed. I have to say that this recent release of a raw version of Let It Be, giving a glimpse into what they would have sounded like with a lot less george martin is illuminating.

I look at "The Police" as an example of a band that essentially imploded with age. The first three albums were awesome. Then what happened? Sting? No, Success!

I love these guys. True artists all.

How difficult is it to fight with your record company to produce the music you want to produce, and still stay under contract?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 8, 2008 1:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Very good point about the Beatles...thought about it alot myself, and we have even kicked it around here a time or two. Suppose the majority of bands/individuals, start out strong, then decline (I buy that hypothesis), and very rarely does it go the other direction (I buy the Beatles as an example). Would be interesting to rate albums/whatever vs time for all bands/artists and do some sort of analysis--assume it would be strongly negative, but then we could suss out the few exceptions by their striking misplacement as datapoints (outliers).

First have to agree on a "quality" scoring system to rate them all, which would be difficult. But it seems most folks agree that for bands/inds that last 10 yrs or more, the first five yrs or first two (or whatever time slot) contain their strongest efforts typically.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jan 8, 2008 5:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Ah--but the Beatles quit while they were ahead.

To me, there is a difference between a show and a gig. A show is something that is performed more or less the same night after night. A gig is more or less one of a kind--both for better or for worse.

I think that the big tours are pretty much shows. Well rehearsed and all. The small stage is the place for innovation. On the big stage, you have to know what the other guys are going to play--there is little room for taking chances. Sorry--but the "space" jams post 1974 are just a bunch of guys making noises to fulfill the fans belief that they are going to see the boys really cook up a storm. Sure, there are exceptions when they do, but it ain't like it was in 1968--eh, Mr. Tell?

The Stones went limp after the 1978 tour. By 1981, it was about the money. Dylan's voice is shot. Many others are nostalgia bands.

J.R. Robertson, commenting on Richard Manuel's drying up after The Band said that some people have a lot of songsin them, some have only 1 or 2.

Same often goes for writing. Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Vonnegut--all great as young lions, all mundane by age 50. Hemingway comitted suicide because he could no longer write well.

Yes, there are exceptions. But I think that more bands flame out than stay creative.

Yes, there are some of the greats that are still great--but time diminishes their power.

Of course, that ain't necessarily so for many jazz greats who were/are musicians first and are into their instruments and learning and playing and getting great.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 8, 2008 6:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Funny, but here are a couple of old farts talking about how it's all downhill after 25...and we are more than twice that.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jan 9, 2008 5:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Old fart? Ha! Speak for yourself!!!!

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Jan 7, 2008 5:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

...from a review of mine on LMA for String Cheese Incident, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 1996. I wrote a tribute to Sam Bush. Here's the last paragraph. It's worth repeating here.

Sammy, how I marvel at life, along with many millions of others -- through the magic of the music -- because of you and Jerry Garcia. These 2 guys regularly executed more musical energy -- converted into pure magical sound -- along with their bands, perhaps better than any 2 people in my 50 something years. I saw the Grateful Dead 25 times in 1973. It was during the best year of their Wall of Sound era. Now I have the honor to be amongst all this music on the Live Music Archive. The folks at archive-dot-org and at etree are just like me. They are music lovers. Make sure to thank these amazing people.

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Poster: staggerleib Date: Jan 7, 2008 12:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

I truly need to separate the artist and the art. Look at classic pricks like Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso. For that matter, look at Pete Townshend, and Todd Rundgren. Those of you who know me, know that these guys are absolute favorites of mine.

The art has to be completely separate. How wonderful would it be if they were both beautiful. I look at it this way: If they weren't human, then their art would have far less passion and would be far less interesting

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Poster: staggerleib Date: Jan 7, 2008 12:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

I truly need to separate the artist and the art. Look at classic pricks like Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso. For that matter, look at Pete Townshend, and Todd Rundgren. Those of you who know me, know that these guys are absolute favorites of mine.

The art has to be completely separate. How wonderful would it be if they were both beautiful. I look at it this way: If they weren't human, then their art would have far less passion and would be far less interesting

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: Jan 7, 2008 2:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

and don't forget the biggest prick of all, miles davis. brilliant musician, but not a very nice man. i think even if the dead had achieved major success in their prime, that garcia would have been the same guy. he had no use for big egos, just better guitars and equipment. the man lived HIS life on HIS terms. he had the guts to do it. how many of us are living our dreams? running the rat race? i sure am, but at least i got the dead to make my life a little brighter. then again, how many of us have the talent that man had? the dead transport us to places and times we simply cannot be at again. it's enough for me. jerry has warmed my heart many a time.

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Poster: yesss! Date: Jan 7, 2008 6:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

why do we still listen to fat old, strung-out, death-bed jerry cough his way through a broken '86 stella blue? because poor dude has stayed in all those blue-light hotels, and he might care about it enough to muster up a nasty bark when he tells himself that he's going to makes his rusty-ass strings shine and, if we're lucky and our flawed hero really really tries, he might just pull it off! and that is why i can't separate the artist from the art when it comes to the grateful dead. if i could really be detached and analytical about it then i would probably only have a few cds and a couple of ticket stubs instead of hundreds of gigs of music, close to a hundred ticket stubs, and tons of books and photos and videos and other dead-related crap. because i don't just enjoy the songs of the grateful dead (they really only wrote a handful of remarkable tunes) or appreciate garcia's guitar licks (not always as incendiary as they could have been) or marvel at the band's angelic harmonies (ahem), i buy into the whoel thing. i have a long term relationship with the rag-tag gang of scruffy misfits who i have come to trust and respect and love and hate like family- despite their individual flaws or lapses in judgement or regrettable decisions at moments of weakness. you know, "warts and all". in fact there are many musicians and bands who i know are better at various things than the dead ever were and whose music i enjoy immensely, but i will never hold them as dear to my heart because i don't care about them as people. i don't have as much emotion personally invested and so i don't get as much back. and that is why people still sit through wince inducing harmonies and croaked vocals, why heads would cheer and provide moral support after a forgotten lyric or flubbed riff- because our hero was mortal and we were rooting for him. smotimes you can win for trying and if you bet on the underdog the payoff can be big.

that said... i was really pissed and disillusioned when jerry went down for the count. i was at the height of my dead obsession when brent died and it was really painful to watch my hero's rapid decline. i was off of the bus from 92-2003 as a result. but now that i'm back i still pull for old jerry even though i know how the story ends. he may not have been the most responsible man around but he was a rock'n'roll rebel fer chrissake and he was still able to stay focussed on and responsible for his art longer than most. in the end he just burned out. but he fought a good fight for a good long time and he gave us all a lot.

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Jan 7, 2008 8:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

"The memory of the man" is the heart of Earl's point. A couple of folks say separate the man from the artist. Having knee-jerked an initial post myself, mindlessly from my gut, I've thought a bit more about Jerry and "me". Then I was inspired to write again due to the great heart and soul style laid out by "yesss!".

Jerry's life for me is a treasure trove. He's my passionate inspiration for rebelling against corporate greed; taking a firm and passionate stand against all unjust wars -- from illegal wars in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos back then to those today in Iraq and Afghanistan; and taking a stand to defend our environment (i.e. stand for sustainable life on Earth). MY FAVORITE all-time Jerry quote, "Summer of Love", American Masters on PBS, quoted below.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/love/program/

Jerry Garcia, circa '66 or '67: "What we're thinking about is a peaceful planet, we're not thinking of anything else. We're not thinking about any kind of power. We're not thinking about any of those kinds of struggles. We're not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life, a simple life, a good life and think about moving the whole human race ahead a step."

The Grateful Dead, for me, has taken this lifestyle to a fantastic level, not to mention the great music. Oh yeah, we were all so fucking young and in the prime of our lives. Compared to kids today, we had it made back then. Their music from the late 60s to '83 is a deadhead's delight. Like yesss!, I've come back to them. When I want to center myself, The Dead are my go-to choice for music, every time. When I went backpacking solo 6 times this summer, my i-pod was my companion in the evenings... mostly the Dead, some String Cheese and some Sam Bush and maybe Leftover Salmon. Every camp of mine in Colorado wilderness above 10,000 feet, or hanging out in my tent during longer rainstorms, ALWAYS, I whipped out my i-pod and went for my favorite Sugaree shows and my 420. Life is good for me with Jerry and the boys.

Jerry, the man, the artist, the lifestyle advocate, the Grateful Dead, and the best fucking sound system the world ever produced -- Phil's Alembic bass and the Wall of Sound 1973 -- the RFK shows Sat/Sun, June 9/10 in '73. Holy Shit! Best sound I personally ever heard come out of a PA System, period! I taped both Dead shows myself. Sunday show rocked! Allman Bros played 1st, lots of folks left. The Dead played for 8 fucking hours! Including the jam at the end with Betz and Trucks from the Allmans. The vibes were just right. Sound engineers nailed it. I believe in my heart this is why this show is the most downloaded, over 433,000 times. It's all inseparable. It's all a huge part of me. Yesss! nailed it. Jerry and the boys give me bliss all the time now. Jerry made the ultimate sacrifice perhaps. I couldn't be more Grateful. I like to think Jerry enjoyed his life.

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Poster: squirrel barker Date: Jan 8, 2008 5:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

My first post.They were true and brave pioneers.With my favorite american values open for all to share.

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Jan 7, 2008 7:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Yesss! Just perfect. Not to mention that there's a fraternity of us still out here, still attached and sharing in some odd way the whole thing. The notion that we're not alone in this lends some kind of creedence to spending 40 years on a bus that apparently goes nowhere.



This post was modified by Earl B. Powell on 2008-01-08 03:25:04

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Poster: Arbuthnot Date: Jan 7, 2008 4:28pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

i'm pretty sure i've mentioned it previously, but if i had to choose between the GD & Jerry's side projects, i'd easily choose the latter, even though i ever only got to see the JGB the once in '84 at Caldwell College in NJ; however, like staggerleib mentioned, you really have to distinguish between the artist and his/her art; i guess what i'm trying to say is that i'm quite a fan of Jerry's music, but like pretty much every entertainer, performer, artist, celebrity even, i'm not really much interested in the individual, only their creations and how it assists me in achieving some level of enjoyment; at least with Jerry, whatever his personal demons/faults may have been, there was something inexplicable about the way he came across, whether with one or a few people, or in a packed stadium; his art (and his spirit) was just so far-reaching and profound

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Poster: spacedface Date: Jan 7, 2008 5:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

While there may be no Grateful Dead without Jerry, Jerry outside the GD wasn't great. The level of excitement just wasn't there.

That's not to say it wouldn't have been different if he quit them and formed another unit. His first solo record was as strong as any GD studio record.

For me the question is why they toured so much when he was obviously tired and needing health. I recently watched the DVD "End of the Road" and the last of it was odd, esp the message from the GD.

That DVD did have a nice reading of Hunter's eulogy poem read by Wavy Gravy in the extras, and had the whole tape of people on stage at the public gathering in GG Park.

It's still a bit hard to believe all these versions of the songs are so available. I'm not sure I would know that 2-24-74 was good and could listen to its Dark Star anytime.

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Poster: L.A. Women Date: Jan 7, 2008 1:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

"'ve assessed the blame for the bands lack of enthusiasm after Brents death on Garcia. I've felt that his addictions were self centered and hypocritical of his own position on the subject of drugs. I've felt that his poor performances were a result of those same selfish acts."

Come on, how many times can you play me+uncle without getting bored, I understand where your coming from but honestly
I am amazed he lasted that long. Sure its easy for the rest of the guy to slack off every now and then ( especially the drummers). Garcia had to be the focus, expected to deliever on a nightly basis playing in a rock improv band, that constantly played alot of the same songs for years.

I am sure he was bored as hell with alo't of that shit and wished he could take a brake, but obviously so many people depended on him to be out there. You don't think that kind of strain would only add to his drug use? Obviously.

All you have to do is listen to his side projects from those years to see that he had not lost the inspiration, he had just grown tired of the repetitive mundane nature of the Grateful Dead. I think what happened with Garcia and the Dead can be summed up with such a simple idea: Moderation.

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Jan 7, 2008 1:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

I agree, and I think for most graybeards around here there is a consensus on those points. I guess the point I was attempting to reach is where do you draw the line personally in your thoughts about the man?

I had no idea what a crushing blow his loss would be to me, until it happened. (Even as expected as it was.) Whether it's the fact that I'm aging way too rapidly, or just plain sentimental, I believe there has always been an emotional investment with the music and the man. (Not unlike the way I felt about Mickey Mantle as a childhood hero.)

...So even as the truth becomes more plain about Garcia's many faults, I still have hero/icon/idol thing left to deal with on a personal level. (And this is not unlike the unfinished business I've had with putting my father to rest, even though it's been over 20 years ago.)

....so is it strictly the music, or was there something about the man that struck a nerve on a different plane? Something unsettled and not quite right?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 7, 2008 2:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

All valid and significant points made above. I would only add that when you listen to young Jerry, in the interviews and books, you find an appealing, iconoclasitc rebel that has great energy coupled with cynicism that I can relate to.

I shudder to think of all my misteps and mistatements coming back to haunt me if made in the public domain. Sure, he could come off as a bad father (and was, by most accounts), but providing the energy and drive that he did behind so many creative projects, I think it only reasonable to forgive him those, as most of us do. On the whole, I think that his contributions overcome his flaws, but that is the biased perspective of a fan. That's the trouble with this evaluation: all of us are making it in that domain, and how different would it be if we were a daughter? I would never question that perspective.

Bottom line, though, Earl, I would say that you should rest easy with the contradictions and complexities of it all, which only grow worse with age. We were all so much younger then, but we are older than that now.

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Poster: headgdhead Date: Jan 8, 2008 5:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

To me all his short comings just make him more human.

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Jan 8, 2008 1:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Truth be told, I've never had much difficulty separating the art from the artist, even in Jerry's case, though I'm guessing I'm party of a tiny minority here. What I think about his addictions, his failings as a parent or his shortcomings in the personal grooming department is irrelevant.

I stopped attending Dead shows in 1991, for a variety of reasons, and during the years immediately before and after his passing I really wasn't even listening to the Dead or other Jerry-related outfits very often. When I heard the news I was shocked, but hardly surprised. Less surprising still are the more lurid details of the man's personal life that, as part of a cottage industry, have steadily trickled out since his death.

I think it’s entirely possible to embrace the music and be completely enthralled with Garcia’s approach to the creative process without constructing some imaginary bridge into an imagined version of his psyche. At the same time it’s clear that for many people Jerry eventually represented something far larger than he ever intended- indeed, his self-effacing wit and benevolent (from outside appearances) nature made him the ideal canvass on which to project their own ideals. For them, the art and the process are completely indivisible from the perceived persona. On a very personal level, these people felt as if they actually “knew” Jerry, and thus now find themselves in the rather absurd position of “forgiving” him for various transgressions - transgressions that are only verified second or third-hand and even if true had no bearing or impact on our lives whatsoever. But they didn’t know him- only know how his art and his performances made them feel.

Apologies if this comes off as a little snippy or harsh- I think I’ve just grown very jaded and guarded against hero worship in my advancing age.

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Poster: JodyC Date: Jan 7, 2008 7:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

nicely said la woman

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Jan 7, 2008 12:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Yup. Just because you may be one of the most talented musicians, no, "artists", out there, doesn't mean you can't also be a prick (not saying that Jerry was one, but based on some stuff I've read, he certainly could be at times).

As Charles Barkley said so well "I am not a role model"

Admire the talent and the many gifts he gave us, but don't forget he was also just a man with all the same faults as the rest of us. Apparently not bathing on a regular basis was one of them.

This post was modified by SomeDarkHollow on 2008-01-07 20:25:56

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Poster: jglynn1.2 Date: Jan 7, 2008 4:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

What? Are you saying "not bathing on a regular basis" is a fault?

;)

Here's one for you: http://www.archive.org/details/Holler

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 8, 2008 8:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Hey you two--this is news, albeit not terribly surprising, but is it well known that Jerry had offensive body odor or were his blue T's food stained regularly in latter years? Just wondering if this is a bit of trivia I missed over the years, or just a joke...

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Jan 8, 2008 11:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Hey WT; Jerry's lack of grooming has been spelled out over the years in a couple of interviews, the one I recall was with Ozzie Ahlers. Ozzie let it be known that Jerry would show up for rehearsals with a cloud of funk around him and heavy beard dandruff showing on his pocket tees.

I for one think it may not have been beard dandruff, but crumbs from a hidden food stash within said beard. Brunch, of a sort.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 8, 2008 12:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Jerry Question

Ah, thanks--and of course, I meant to say "black pocket Ts" (at least the ones I recall were black). With all he was doing, suppose cleaning up was the first item to move down the priority list. I have so little to do it has moved up on mine, although at this age it doesn't accomplish as much...and once the beard was grey, the food bits are harder to see (or is that my eyesight?).